Producing Learning Gains in India with the Group Teaching and Learning (GTL) Multimedia Hybrid in One-Computer Classroom

What’s the Problem?
Around the world, computers are gaining recognition as an effective learning tool to improve the quality of education. But the challenges of introducing computer technology into schools, particularly in developing countries, are great. Faced with overcrowded classrooms and stretched budgets, schools that can afford computers typically can obtain only one or two at most. The idea of a well-supplied school computer lab is simply not practical in most developing countries.

Children sit in front of the computer with their teacher. The problem of too many students (often 60 or more per class) and not enough computers in a classroom works against a key pedagogical strategy of ensuring every student spends a significant amount of time on task, engaged in meaningful learning activity. A common adaptation of the technology is for the teacher to sit three, four, five or more students in front of a computer, and usually give little additional guidance. However, most educational software is designed for a user-to-machine ratio of one-to-one or two-to-one. In order to make best use of the software, the teacher and students adapt to the configuration it imposes, one that often does not match the real conditions of many classrooms. This makes it more difficult for both teachers and students to accomplish their educational goals.

Furthermore, while studies show that students can learn effectively when using computer technology, computers alone cannot produce educational reform or overall improved learning. Technology can only help facilitate deep and lasting learning when it is customized to be compatible with its user environment, and when the teacher and students are able to integrate the assets of the technology into their existing teaching and learning processes. An easy-to-use method which helps produce real learning gains is needed.

The Group Teaching and Learning (GTL) Multimedia Hybrid
In response to these challenges, Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC) in India, through the USAID-supported dot-EDU Technology Tools for Teaching and Training (T4) project, has created a method of using educational software that addresses many of the conditions typical of developing country classrooms. The result is called the Group Teaching and Learning (GTL) Multimedia Hybrid. It is an innovative teaching and learning methodology that is a hybrid of rich multimedia and pedagogical strategies. It is customized to the local needs of its audience, based on extensive audience research. Its attributes are designed to maximize learning in school conditions typical of India.

The GTL Multimedia Hybrid embraces a whole class or group learning environment, supports the teacher and integrates a variety of teaching and learning methods, such as games and competition, familiar characters and songs, and locally-stylized animation and audio samples. These methods are geared towards larger groups of students to view, explore, play and sing along with the program with a high level of interactivity. Unlike most in-school educational software, it requires just a single computer. And it is producing learning gains among primary students in southern India at costs far more affordable than those of most school computer lab hardware requirements.

Pilot CD-ROM: Animal Discovery Learning Game
The pilot CD program in this series, Animal Discovery Learning Game, covers environmental science and was produced in Bangalore with the e-learning solutions provider, Sudiksha Learning Dimensions. In this CD game, students learn about animal characteristics and classifications when they do “build animal” and “classify animal” activities. Animal Discovery is a whole class teaching and learning resource that features the following characteristics:
  • Targets Grades 4 and 5, though applicable in different ways to higher and lower grades
  • Focuses on learning objectives based on teacher-identified hard spots in the Karnataka state science curriculum
  • Engages up to 25 students that participate simultaneously
  • Formalizes peer-to-peer learning through the team method: up to five teams compete
  • Gives users three language options: Kannada, Hindi and English, allowing for broad usage across India
  • Contains printable lesson plans for follow-up off-computer games and projects
  • Integrates features from EDC’s Interactive Radio Instruction (IRI) programs broadcast in Karnataka, such as characters, songs and activity-based team learning strategies
  • Includes animated team quizzes

Preliminary Evaluation Results
Project staff recently conducted a small, preliminary evaluation with four lower primary government schools in Karnataka. The sample in each school consisted of 20 students, a mixture of boys and girls from Grades 4 and 5, facilitated by one to three teachers. The study targeted only first-time users who had not participated in teacher training. They played only two out of five available activities.

Nonetheless, initial findings showed that significant student learning did occur as a result of the students’ and teachers’ use of the software: on average, students demonstrated a learning gain between pre- and post-tests of 16% across the four schools, with one school achieving an average gain of 22%. The higher achievement rate occurred at the school that demonstrated more frequent student-to-student and teacher-to-student interactions.

The results appear to reinforce the pedagogical principle that learning is, to a large extent, a social activity. Teachers can enhance learning during the activity when they contribute their own additional feedback and facilitate the interaction of students, including prompting discussion and guiding them to motivate and share knowledge with each other.

What’s Next?
EDC anticipates that similar learning gains will be demonstrated in upcoming expanded evaluations. Additionally, it is hoped that further learning achievement will be bolstered by both teacher training and design improvements garnered through further testing.

A total of five CD ROMs are planned. In July 2006, EDC will distribute Animal Discovery Learning Game copies to all primary schools in Karnataka that have computers, accompanied by teacher training. Habitats and Ecosystems Learning Game, also on environmental science, is in production and expected to be completed by September this year. Among the remaining titles in development are the Sanitation and Hygiene and the What is Disease? learning games, both of which will be completed by the end of 2006. The fifth CD ROM will explore a different curriculum area.

For More Information, Contact:
Nadia Karim-Shaw
Technical Advisor, T4 Project - India
Education Development Center

Doug Bell
EDC Senior Technical Advisor, Education Development Center

Vandita Sharma
Chief of Party, India T4
Education Development Center

Related DOT-COM Activity
India - Technology Tools for Teaching & Training in India (Project T4)
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